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2015 NFL Projections: The NFC North

Aaron RodgersGreen Bay Packers

If ever there were a true Gold Standard in the NFL, it would be in the Green Bay Packers.

Green Bay is a Super Bowl contender every season, and they’re also a team that has been constructed almost exclusively by draft picks. They’ve been able to avoid going to free agency and blowing their salary cap space, giving them annual flexibility to whatever they need.

Aaron Rodgers is at the height of his prime, and runs the offense at a nearly flawless level. He’s got a pair of 1,000-yard receivers at his disposal in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, who combined for 2,700 yards and 25 touchdowns a year ago. Davante Adams is growing and could take on an even larger role in his second season.

Eddie Lacy may also have an even larger role in the offense now that Mike McCarthy is no longer calling plays. Lacy only had more than 17 carries in a game three times last year, but still ran for over 1,100 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Green Bay has been working on improving their secondary. Last year’s first-round pick Haha Clinton-Dix will be joined by this year’s top pick Damarious Randall, and second-rounder cornerback Quinten Rollins.

The Packer defensive line may be the only weak point on the team, but the elite linebackers featuring Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers more than makes up for it.

Green Bay is destined for another top season, with the only thing that could stop them being a Rodgers injury.

Projected Finish: 13-3, 1st Place

Detroit Lions

The Lions turned in a solid 2014 campaign, finishing 11-5 and coming up just short of advancing to the second round of the playoffs against the Dallas Cowboys.

The team lost a couple of high-priced veterans in the off-season, saying goodbye to Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Dominic Raiola, and Reggie Bush, but still managed to make some improvements.

Second-round pick Ameer Abdullah could find himself as Detroit’s top running back by the season’s end. He’s an explosive guy that is also tough to tackle, and fits what the Lions look for in their scheme perfectly.

Quarterback Matt Stafford was a bit underwhelming last year, only throwing for more than 300 yards three times during the season. Calvin Johnson missed three games last year, and was never completely healthy, so having his top target with a clean bill of health could aid Stafford greatly. Golden Tate also stepped up for a career-year with 99 receptions for over 1,300 yards, but only found the endzone four times.

The Lions replaced Suh with former Raven Haloti Ngata, who brings plenty of playoff experience to the table. Ezekial Ansah is a guy coming off of a breakout season where he notched 15.5 sacks.

The defense has a mix of up and coming young players and savvy veterans. Along with Ngata, the team has Stephen Tulloch locking down the middle, and Rashean Mathis in the secondary providing plenty of experience and still performing at acceptable levels.

The team also has De’Andre Levy back at outside linebacker, with Darius Slay and Glover Quin (who led the league with seven interceptions last year) in the secondary.

The Lions are getting closer to becoming a true force in the NFC. The key is for Matt Stafford to finally figure things out and become a quarterback that is great and not just good. Until such time as he proves that, the Lions are still a distant second to the Packers.

Projected Finish: 10-6, 2nd Place

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are finally taking some steps in the right direction.

They’ve turned the page on Christian Ponder, and now are moving forward with Teddy Bridgewater as their starter. Bridgewater played well in his rookie year, and provided the team with some real optimism for the future.

Bridgewater will benefit greatly from the return of Adrian Peterson, who returns from suspension to be the team’s workhorse at the position once again. Peterson should be fresh and more determined than ever to come back big. He’s a special talent, and once took the Vikings to the playoffs on his back and its exciting to think how he and the improved passing game with Bridgewater will compliment each other.

Minnesota added to the receiver position, picking up Mike Wallace who they hope will be able to give them a serious downfield threat. Charles Johnson emerged as a viable option, and will start alongside Wallace with Cordarelle Patterson being worked in.

Everson Griffin led the defense with 12 sacks, and the improvement of tackle Shariff Floyd should continue to bolster the defensive line. Linebacker Anthony Barr turned in a promising rookie season, and the arrival of Eric Kendricks should make the linebackers even better. First-round pick Trae Waynes will join Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith in the secondary to give the team another promising layer of defense.

There’s a lot to like about this Vikings team. They’ve sured up almost every position on the team, and they’re in position to be one of the surprise teams of 2015. They’re solid as a rock defensively and with the return of Peterson and an improving Bridgewater, I think this team could very well find themselves in the mix for a Wild Card.

Projected Finish: 9-7, 3rd Place

Chicago Bears

Down in the cellar of the North, we have the Chicago Bears.

The Bears are going through yet another transitional phase, having pulled the plug on head coach Marc Trestman. John Fox arrives from Denver to take over, and comes into a situation where his roster lost a good deal of talent over the off-season. Gone are Brandon Marshall, Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, Chris Conte, and center Roberto Garza.

Fox also has to deal with Jay Cutler as his starting quarterback for at least one more season. Cutler is primarily still on the roster because of a bad contract extension that the team locked themselves into a year ago. The former Bronco’s numbers weren’t horrible last year (3,812 yards, 28 touchdowns) but Cutler still turns the ball over too much.

Matt Forte remains the focal point of the offense, and still has a solid offensive line to support him. Forte compiled nearly 2,000 total yards a year ago, and is still one of the league’s best dual-threats.

The Chicago defense is a shell of what it once was. They’ve been unable to replenish talent on the roster, and more of their old core have moved on with Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs departing. Jared Allen still has some value as a pass rusher, but he isn’t what he once was. Antrelle Rolle was signed to provide some veteran leadership, but he’s another guy that has seen his best come and go.

The Bears have very little upside, and things could get much worse for this team before they get better. Cutler is a lost cause at this point, and Forte is simply going through the motions before he hits free agency next year.

Projected Finish: 5-11, 4th Place

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Posted by on Aug 15 2015. Filed under BREAKING NEWS, News, NFC News, NFL. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

59 Comments for “2015 NFL Projections: The NFC North”

  1. Good Analysis Denny and pretty Spot On
    I actually have the Vikings making the Playoffs at 10-6 and beating out the Lions for 2nd Place in the Division and have the GB Packers as the Best Team in the NFC and returning to the Super Bowl..

  2. Cutler and new Head Coach John Fox. LOL, that is going to be funny.

  3. I dont know about ten wins but the vikings are very talented and could make some noise, I believe ap is going to kill everybody this year

    • Vikings have their 6 NFCNorth Division Games
      4 Games vs NFC West
      4 Games vs AFC West
      2 Games vs NFC 3rd Place (Giants & Falcons)

  4. Giants are gonna be terrible on defense this year I see maybe 5 wins for them

    • Vikings go 3-3 in NFC North
      Then go 2-2 vs NFC West (Beat Rams & 49ers)
      Then go 3-1 vs AFC West (Beat Chargers, Raiders & Chiefs)
      Then Beat both the Falcons Giants to get to 11 Wins

      It’s possible with a healthy & amped up AP and improved Bridgewater with ReceiversWallace,Patterson & Jarius Wright and TE K Rudolph and Depth at RBwith Asista and Scat/Back J McKinnon

  5. My 2 Surprise, much improved Teams this Season are the Vikings in the NFC and the Bills in the AFC …as I see both making the Playoffs

    • Jamies Winston following up an awful week or 2 of camp with an awful first game.

      • At least he led a TD Drive before the half but he has a lot to work on..
        He Has too slow of a wind-up in his passing motion and will have to shorten that up or will get killed… He stares down Receivers and forced a lot of passes besides a bad Int , 2 Fumbled Snaps and at least 5-6 Passes that were nowhere close to being completed but that’s why you Play him an entire half to work on his game…

        • The ballsy (and logical) move for TB was to have traded out of the pick.

          But no GM would do that and not take the “consensus” first pick, even though, deep down, the GM probably knew, as did most, that Winston was a huge risk.

          But when ESPN and NFL network, and everyone else is proclaiming the guy the best (even though deep down they didn’t believe it)…well, if you’re a GM and you go against that and don’t do the “safe” thing….you open yourself up for attack/ridicule.

          Take Winston and if (when) he fails, its not the GMs fault…its Winston’s fault….”everyone” would have made that pick.

          I never would have made that pick.

          • It’s easy to say just trade out of the Top Pick but to be honest, there was not a whole lot of interest around the NFL in Teams in mortgaging their Futures for either QB Winston or Mariota… The TB Bucs probably would have been better short-term in Selecting DL Leonard Williams who they could have paired with DT Gerald McCoy to rebuild that shaky Defense…
            They could have signed QB Mike Vick on a cheap 1-2 year Deal and let him compete with Mike Glennon for the Starters Job…

          • Lol…talk about overreacting after a rookies first NFL action!!!

  6. Game Day !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It’s the sport of Kings better than Diamond Rings…
    F-O-O-T-B-A-L-L !!!!!!!!!!!
    Are you ready for some Football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. That is a Tre Burton TD if Sanchez could have gotten the ball out faster or hit him in stride.

  8. Marcus Smith is on the field and playing…I repeat…Marcus Smith is on the field and playing!!!

  9. 2 Drops.. Sanchez a little High but Sproles & Matthews have to catch those

  10. 3 Drop Passes already

  11. Touchdown Jordan Math….uggggg never mind.

  12. OL is looking good here, Sanchez plenty of time to see the field
    3 Drops already by the Eagles and then Sanchez misses a wide open Matthews then Agholor bails him out with a great Catch and run
    Agholor has a real good chance for the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year..

  13. Nelson Agholor with a sweet grab in outer space…TD for the rook!

  14. SHitty Sanchez has been bailed out by Matthews and Agholor.

    The first on the patented 20 yard floater up the middle that Matthews had to go up and get, and which would have gotten him obliterated in the reg season (a Sanchez specialty)

    And the second with Agholor reach high and behind on another shitty floater.

    Sanchez sucks.

  15. Nelson has some wheels! I swear if the qb situation is right our offense will be a problem for any team! Say what you want about chip but he is a offensive genius

  16. It’s nice to see the new WR go up so high to make a catch. Looks like Cooper could be history soon.

  17. Nice Series Defense
    Let’s go Barkley…
    That was same route that Matthews was wide open with before

  18. Ok now….nice catch and run by Matthews from Barkley.

    Now take him out of the game please.

  19. Eagles OL Dominating this Game versus the Colts DL
    1st String & 2nd String

  20. Matt Barkley just showed Sanchez how to hit a receiver on target.

  21. Next Man Up … Plug N Play …

  22. Eric Rowe with a nice turnover

  23. I guess Tebow will play the second half. I don’t think there’s room for him. Even if he can run.

  24. I can’t really blame that on Barkley…sucks tho. Looked like the offense was going to be rolling again

  25. Barkley looking good until a bad break

  26. Barkley has no arm.

    I really hope Tebow shows something over the next 4 weeks, because I have no faith in Shitty Sanchez or this noodle arm if either has to play any stretch.

  27. Sanchez. Back with tha bad toxic body chemistry ..bad for the culture ..

  28. He’s no leader sorry

  29. Again,factoring in a dominant “downhill defense” proper technique from the back end ,and winning the battle against Indus 1st and goal nod starters is a testimony to the depth .PMan. This is the first eye test and already I can see the classic chimp cha cha ache ,as you back step off your dismal prognostications weeks ago..foolish to rip into something you hadn’t seen yet?

  30. Wow fly eagles fly heh Pman?

  31. Darwinism ..to the chimp..never bet against chipperdelphia …

  32. Tebow is ssssooooo horrible

  33. Preseason Game #1 DE, Eagles DL Dominated the Line of Scrimmage vs the Colts OL in the first half…
    Which means very little right now but a definite positive sign
    Let’s see how they do versus the Ravens DL who will have more Starters playing..

    Offensive Players that looked well
    QB Barkley, RB Barner & Mostert
    WR Agholor & Bailey & TE Tomlinson
    OL Gardner & Barbre

    Defensively
    B Logan, Bair, LB’s Brad Jones
    DB’s Rowe & Biggers & Maragos & Reynolds

    Tebow is not an NFL QB
    Kicker Parkey having an off day missing 2 kicks

    Doesn’t appear any major Injuries
    Biggest Positive was Eagles OL in my opinion

  34. Special Teams Play has been solid and Barner had a great game

  35. Safety Earl Wolff to be released Monday

  36. Along with OT Kevin Graff who has been terrible at RT and been beaten on almost every pass..

  37. Eagles Red-Zone Offense still not getting it done.. They had to settle for 3 FG’s today and really should have had 40 Pts today ..

  38. LB Braman looks pretty good and is having a Great Game..

  39. This was a awesome first game for the eagles, everybody looked good…..the only guy that needs to go is Kevin Graf he was only negative for me…..chip has this team ready and go tebow

    • DB Jaylen Watkins struggled I thought & QB Tebow went downhill after his first Series and didn’t impress me as a legitimate NFL…

      Offensive Stars – Agholor, TE Tomlinson ,RB’s Mostert & Barner and Receiers Austin & Bailey had some nice Cathches ?
      Where was Josh Huff? Did he Play today?
      OL did a nice job outside of Graff who was beaten on almost every Pass Play

  40. Marcus smith was very active today…..he was getting pressure and doing,good in coverage just needs to contain better but he looked good

    • This was the best that MS2 has looked, he was active, around the ball and played well versus the Run and dropping back in Coverage but he definitely needs work on his pass rush and show some more explosion & strength but a big improvement over last year which is good to see.. I thought the new OLB that came in last week Watkins (#45) & Brad Jones and Braman all played well as did Acho

  41. DB Biggers & Rowe played very well I thought…

  42. Did Taylor Hart play? I did not notice him, I did however notice Brian Mihalik who was active with a sack and some tackles.

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